Group A

Germany
Germany automatically qualified for this year’s world cup as hosts, the main star of the German side is Michael Ballack who truly merits his status as a world class player. Germany have never failed to qualify for the FIFA world cup, however they did not enter in 1930 and 1950. Germany will want to prove that world cup 2002 was no fluke in reaching the final.

Star man - Michael Ballack

Costa Rica
Mexico is forty times the size of Costa Rica; however they were just as impressive in qualifying. Costa Rica has a population of just below four million. Costa Rica were knocked out in the first phase of the 2002 world cup however they are looking for a repeat performance from Italia 90 were they went through to the second phase at the expense of Scotland. They are entering the FIFA world cup on the back of an embarrassing 3-1 defeat against Guatemala in October.

Star man - Paulo Wanchope

Poland
Poland coasted through their qualifying group with wins at home and away against Wales, Northern Ireland, Austria and Azerbaijan, only England beat Poland. They scored a staggering 27 goals in their ten qualifying matches which speaks volumes for it self. They will fancy them selves to reach the second phase at least.

Star man - Tomasz Frankowski

Ecuador
Ecuador qualified for this summer’s world cup at the expense of Colombia and Chile and they will want to prove qualification for this year’s world cup was no fluke. Despite only reaching the first phase four years ago, they managed to beat Brazil and Argentina at home in the qualifying round.

Star man - Luis Valencia

 

Group B

England
England qualified for this summer’s world cup; however everything did not go according to plan when they were defeated by Northern Ireland. 2006 represents England’s best chance of winning the world cup in forty years. With the likes of Michael Owen, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, England could be serious contenders. The experience of players like Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand may prove vital.

Star man - Frank Lampard

Paraguay
Consistency over the years has been a major problem for Paraguay, the teams form fluctuated through out qualifying. After three disappointing world cup tournaments, they will be looking to qualify for the knock out phase. A home victory at the hands of Argentina will provide them with confidence.

Star man - Nelson Valdez

Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad qualified for the World cup finals at the expense of Bahrain. They boast a host of players playing in the English football league including Dennis Lawrence of Wrexham and Stern John of Coventry City. Ex- Manchester United striker, Dwight Yorke now playing his football in Australia will be up front for Trinidad this summer.

Star man - Dwight Yorke

Sweden
After scoring 30 goals in their qualifying matches Sweden are expected to have a really good tournament at this summer’s world cup. They lost the 1958 world cup final to Brazil and reached the Semi-Final of the 1994 world cup. In qualifying they comfortably beat Bulgaria home and away. They will be looking to enter the second phase at least.

Star man - Henrik Larsson

 

Group C

Argentina
After the disappointing first round exit in Korea/Japan 2002, Argentina have regained momentum and will go to Germany as one of the favourites to win the trophy. They were the fist team in South America to qualify for this summer’s world cup. They beat Brazil 3-1 in June and fancy their chances against the likes of Serbia and Holland in their group; they are expected to comfortably reach the second phase at least.

Star Man - Hernan Crespo

Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast possesses one of the best strikers in the world, Didier Drogba, who plays his football for Chelsea in England. The manager, Henri Michel, is extremely experienced, in charge of his sixth national team. They beat Egypt home and away in the qualifying round which helped their cause in qualifying for this summer’s world cup.

Star Man - Didier Drogba

Serbia & Montenegro
They topped their qualifying group ahead of Spain and Belgium. Mateja Kezman provides the greatest goal threat; he scored five goals in qualifying for the world cup and plays his domestic football at Athletico Madrid. Their tight defence was the key for Serbia in reaching the world cup finals. Despite being in this tough Group they may be looking to come off on top at the expense of Argentina and Holland.

Key Man - Mateja Kezman

Netherlands
Marco van Basten is hoping for the Dutch to go far in this summer’s world cup finals, knowing that they are well capable of winning the world cup. After 18 years without winning a major trophy they will be looking to reinforce them selves on the world map of football. They were more than impressive in qualifying for the world cup without being defeated in qualifying, including a 2-0 away victory against Czech Republic.

Star Man - Ruud Van Nistelrooy

 

Group D

Mexico
Mexico breezed through the qualifying round, and are looking for a repeat of their outstanding performance four years ago where they reached the quarter- finals. Mexico’s world ranking took a tremendous boost by reaching fifth in September 2005. They are favourites to win this group ahead of Portugal.

Star Man - Jared Borgetti

Iran
With nine wins in eleven qualifiers they comfortably qualified for the world cup finals. Ali Karimi poses Iran’s greatest threat playing for Bayern Munich, he was crowned Asian Footballer of the year in 2004. They will be looking to build on their performance in the world cup finals in France in 1998.

Star Man - Ali Karimi

Angola
Angola reached this summer’s world cup finals at the expense of Nigeria. They won all five home matches in qualifying for the world cup this summer. They required a victory in their final qualifying match against Rwanda to qualify for the world cup finals. Angola boasts their striker, Mantorras who plays his domestic football in Portugal for Benfica.

Star Man - Mantorras

Portugal
Portugal comfortably won their qualifying group ahead of Russia and Slovakia. Outstanding attackers like Christiano Ronaldo and Sabrosa have fused brilliantly. After reaching the final of the European Championships in home soil they will be looking to progress far in this summer’s world cup.

Star Man - Christiano Ronaldo

 

Group E

Italy
Places in the Italian squad are tight as the Italian coach used 36 players in the qualifying matches that saw Italy easily win their qualifying group. They have world class defenders including Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro. Whilst their playmaker Totti will be playing for Italy in the summer. Francesco Totti is likely to be Italy’s greatest threat up front. They are expected to win Group E.

Star Man - Gianluca Zambrotta

Ghana
Ghana secured a place at the 2006 world cup with a 4-0 victory away to the Cape Verde Islands. Ghana have won the African nations cup on four occasions and this is their first appearance in a world cup. Their only defeat in qualifying came against Burkina Faso. They beat past world cup participants, South Africa both home and away.

Star man - Michael Essien

United States
Their world cup performance four years ago, reaching to the quarter finals signalled the country’s emergence as a serious soccer nation. Landon Donovan was outstanding in the world cup four years ago and he will be looking to build on his performance in this summer’s world cup. They only lost twice in qualifying and are going to push for a place in the second round.

Star Man - Claudio Reyna

Czech Republic
After an excellent performance in Euro 2004, Czech Republic could be the dark horses of this world cup. After a rocky 2-0 away defeat against Holland in their opening qualifying match, the Czech Republic won 11 out of their 13 remaining qualifying matches, two of them won against Norway in a two- legged play off. Milan Baros will be looking to top the scoring charts in this summer’s world cup after picking up the golden boot in Euro 2004 with five goals.

Star Man - Milan Baros

 

Group F

Brazil
Without a doubt Brazil are the favourites to win this summer’s world cup, there team is packed with world class talent. The World class stars they feature include, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Adriano. After a below par qualifying campaign they will be looking to show what their team is actually worth. They should comfortably win Group F.

Star Man - Ronaldinho

Croatia
Croatia stormed into this year’s world cup by topping a tough qualifying group that included teams like Sweden and Bulgaria. They remain unbeaten in their qualifying matches and will be in contention to top Group F along with Brazil.

Star Man - Niko Kavik

Australia
After thirty two years out of the world cup finals, they have finally qualified. After agonising play-off defeats at the hands of Iran and Uruguay in the past two campaigns, they qualified for the world cup. With Guus Hiddink as manager, Australia could not be in better hands. Hiddink led South Korea to the semi- finals in 2002. Many of the players in the Australian national squad play their football in the Premiership.

Star man - Tim Cahill

Japan
Japan became the first nation to qualify for the 2006 world cup. The side is being managed by former Brazil legend Zico. The only team to beat them in qualifying was Iran.

Star man - Hidetoshi Nakata

 

Group G

France
The comeback of Zinedine Zidane will be welcomed by the French as they did not play particularly well in qualifying. They started off poorly with a home scoreless draw against Israel and had to count on victories against much weaker nations such as Faroe Islands and Cyprus to qualify. However they still managed to win the group. After a very disappointing show in the 20022 world cup and Euro 2004, France will be looking to progress far in this summer’s world cup.

Star Man - Thierry Henry

Switzerland
Switzerland qualified for the world cup on goal difference in a two- legged play off against Turkey. They were lucky to even qualify for the play offs as they failed to beat Israel, Ireland or France in the qualifying phase. Switzerland will play host Euro 2008 and will like to give a great performance to show their value in years to come.

Star man - Johan Vonlanthen

South Korea
Four years ago South Korea had not won any of their twelve world cup matches, and no one expected them to get past the fist group phase. However they astonished everyone by reaching the semi-finals. Judging them on recent form may indicated that they have little chance of progressing as far as they did four years ago, however a place in the second round is certainly not beyond them.

Star man - Park Ji- Sung

Togo
The president of Togolese declared a national holiday to celebrate Togo qualifying for the world cup this summer. They are managed by Stephen Keshi who is a former captain and assistant coach of Nigeria.

Star man - Emmanuel Adebayor

 

Group H

Spain
Spain have failed to live up to expectations in past world cups, they have failed to get past the quarter finals in their last eight attempts. The squad looks their strongest ever; however they were far from brilliant in qualifying for the world cup and they relied on a play off match against Slovakia to go through to the world cup.

Star man - Fernando Torres

Ukraine
After narrowly missing out on major tournaments since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine cam out on top of a tough qualifying group including European champions Greece. Ukraine went six qualifying matches without conceding a single goal. The Ukraine are inspired by their star striker Andriy Shevchenko. They will be looking to show their true value in the world cup this summer.

Star man - Andriy Shevchenko

Tunisia
Tunisia disposed of North African competitors Morocco to reach this summer’s world cup. Their previous three campaigns in the years 1978, 1998 and 2002 ended in disappointment, however this summer they will want to put on a good shoe to compensate for previous competitions. Most their players play in the French league, including Ziad Jaziri and Slim Benachour.

Star Man - Francileudo Santos

Saudi Arabia
After a triumphant debut in the world cup finals of 1994, they have struggled in the previous two world cups. The 2002 world cup could be considered a disaster after losing all three matches, including an 8-0 hammering against Germany. However in their qualifying matches they remained unbeaten throughout and will be looking to banish the memory of the world cup four years ago.

Star man - Nawaf Al Temyat

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.